Once upon a time in America, not so much in the Mediterranean, people who advocated plant-based diets were considered extremists and cranks. As it turns out, eating those fresh greens mom laid out on the dinner table was a good idea after all. Researchers at Harvard looking for the ideal diet have concluded that the Mediterranean diet, a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, olive oil and seeds with minimal amounts of dairy, fish, poultry and red meat is the optimal diet.
These researchers are claiming that eating mostly raw plant-based foods and whole grains can lead to optimal health and longevity as well as a more natural body/fat index. When the body is fed a natural diet, they suggest, the body will find its natural weight. Instead of worrying about how much one weighs, one can eat appropriately then let the body work its own magic.
Together with appropriate exercise, at least 10 to 15 minutes a day where possible, the Mediterranean diet will help one’s body find its own balance of fat and muscle. Despite what the local gym or exercise guru might suggest about appropriate levels of exercise, researchers conclude that a good paced walk can have heart and body healthy benefits that are compounded with a fresh plant-based diet.
Whether one is a health conscious person or one keen to shed a few pounds the Mediterranean diet appears to be optimal. For the weekend warrior or world-class athlete the Mediterranean diet will increase energy, focus and endurance. On an increasing basis world-class athletes are turning to plant-based diets that help them achieve optimal competitive results.
Some of the direct and observable effects of the Mediterranean diet are healthier looking skin, more energy, better cardiovascular health and performance and a slowing of the aging process. Many report that over time cognitive abilities improve, stress is reduced and moods balance out.
Western culture is obsessed with aesthetics and outward appearances. Girls are taught that in order to look good one has to be skinny and without old-fashioned curves. While there is a bit of pushback in play polls demonstrate that young people are buying into the notion that to be respected and ultimately successful in life one needs to look a certain way. Many are choosing diets that counter-intuit recent studies and in some cases do more harm than good.
Many researchers blame diet directly for a recent lowering of life expectancy for both men and women. Currently the United States is dealing with a near epidemic in obesity. One of the chief causes of heart attacks, strokes and a range of other life shortening ailments appears to be directly linked, among other things, to diet. Instead of eating processed foods one can choose to eat more naturally. All too many people, researchers suggest, have diets rich in animal fat, processed foods, salt, sugar and soda pop. On top of that, many people are choosing to lead increasingly sedentary lifestyles.
Whatever one’s health, activity or athletic goals one might have, latest studies demonstrate that the Mediterranean diet is optimal. As people make better choices at the local market, exercise responsibly and engage in stress reducing activities, they can expect better health and the range of benefits that naturally follow.
By Matthew R. Fellows
Photo By: Michael Cannon Flickr License